The difference between a water shortage and a demand issue explained.
The UK is ten weeks into lockdown, with many hundreds of thousands of people at home all day who wouldn’t normally be.
This means a lot of additional hand washing and increased usage in the home (more showers, more washing and more cleaning and cooking etc.)
It seems at least we are being blessed with glorious sunny weather, so of course paddling pools, hose pipes and sprinklers are all on the cards.
After all, people are all stuck at home unable to go to the beach or away on holiday as many would normally at this time of year – so we completely understand that those with gardens want to make the most of them, stay cool and water plants.
And with one of the wettest Januarys and Februarys on record there is no problem right?
Well, it’s not that clear cut and here’s why…
Yes there is enough water sat in reservoirs right now thanks to the rain we have experienced, however, water of course has to go through a treatment process before it arrives at your tap.
On an average day, we treat and supply 538 million litres of water – enough to make half the world’s population a cup of tea.
In lockdown, people are using between 10 and 20 per cent more than usual. But even with the extra demand of lockdown, we can treat more than enough water.
However, in hot weather demand really soars and then it becomes difficult to keep up. Imagine being in a shower when someone turns on a tap downstairs – the water slows to a trickle.
And the hot weather coupled with the extra people at home has meant we are seeing some really high peaks throughout the day; in fact some days during lockdown we have seen an extra 60 million litres demand!
Sprinklers, hoses and paddling pools require extreme large quantities of water, something we should be mindful of during a normal summer anyway, but if that demand hits the network at the same time (which lockdown is causing it to do) it causes demand to out weigh supply.
Quite simply, if lots of people fill pools and use hoses and sprinklers – the water supply has to be split between all demands.
So you see, this is why water companies are asking everyone across the country to use water wisely during lockdown – the demand on the hot days is too high. The water treatment works which are more than capable of producing more than enough water for all essential use are very suddenly stretched.
Especially as these days fewer people have the single occupancy child paddling pools which only take a few litres and are opting for the larger versions – most pools are now between 500 and 1000 litres, with some whoppers as big as 3500 litres – that’s a lot of water! It’s worth noting that as we move further into summer; these sums of water can also go on to cause a water shortage too.
Based on just one average 500-1000 litre pool it takes equivalent amount of water for around:
We hope that this helps to make it clear that thanks to the wet weather over winter we are currently in the lucky position that there is no water shortage, but that we are joining forces with all water companies across the UK to ask people to use water wisely during lockdown, so that demand can be met at all times.
After all, we are all in this together.
Here are some tips for saving water in hotter weather.